Mexico's Biggest Bank BBVA Proposes Nafta Negotiator as Chairman

(Bloomberg) -- At a time when Donald Trump is threatening to withdraw from Nafta after labeling it the worst trade deal ever, Mexico’s biggest bank is tapping one of its original negotiators to become its next chairman.

BBVA Bancomer, the local unit of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, nominated Jaime Serra Puche to lead its board, according to a filing with the Mexican stock exchange Monday. Serra headed Mexico’s Nafta negotiations in the early 1990s as trade minister to President Carlos Salinas. If approved, he will replace Luis Robles Miaja, who is retiring in September.

Serra has been a board member at BBVA Bancomer, the nation’s biggest bank by loans, since 2007. He is also the founder and president of SAI Derecho & Economia, a legal, economic and financial consulting firm.

After negotiating Nafta, Serra went on to serve as finance minister for the first weeks of Salinas’s successor’s administration, Ernesto Zedillo. He was replaced by Guillermo Ortiz after the peso crash in December 1994 at the start of what became known as the Tequila Crisis.

President Trump has blamed low-cost Mexican production for the outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing jobs south of the border, which was a key motivation for him to demand the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement be renegotiated last year. U.S. proposals have been oriented around increasing Mexican salaries and providing incentives for auto manufacturers to either move production back to America or at least stop investing so much south of the border.

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